Hahns rebuilding history
NAPPANEE — As an auctioneer and antiques enthusiast, when Dave Hahn was delivering fuel to a customer (of Henschen Oil) on C.R. 46, and saw the aged log home sitting on the property, he knew it was something he had to have. His wife Bets, also an enthusiast, was — at first — not as sure. “It was covered in siding and had drywall inside,” the food director for Wa-Nee Schools said. “He asked the owner (Nancy Miller) if he could have it, and she said that as long as he took it and left the area like it was never there, he could.”
She explained that Dave had taken the home down “log by log, labeling each one” before bringing it back to the six-acre property his family has owned for decades. “He went to the recorder’s and looked at the plat maps,” she said. “We can’t be 100-percent positive but it seems that it was built between 1820 and 1840 and the original owner was Christian Stouder.”
When adding a sun room to the home that they live in (in 2004) — which was labeled a Centennial Home in the 1960s and which Dave’s great-grandparents grew up in — he decided he wanted a pond, though Bets was picturing something more like a pool. Their compromise ended in a “swimming hole” that slopes from a sandy beach to a 15-foot-deep end that is circulated by a waterfall spewing from decorative and natural-looking rocks. “The (grand) kids love it,” she explained. “I wanted them to have somewhere to gather and so the cabin just made sense for being a place for them to change and for us to enjoy.”
Still compromising, when Dave also suggested an outhouse, she agreed “but only if there was a flushing toilet and running water.” The resulting bathroom appears to be a rustic outhouse connected by the roof and porch but offers all the basic amenities outhouses did not.
Dave tried to keep things “as authentic as possible” with the structure itself. The porch posts are the log cabin’s original floor joists. The front door is the original and the back door was once a door to the master bedroom upstairs. He added the porch to protect the outside walls of the structure, walls built with the original logs. The stairs to the second floor are the originals though the upstairs, once three bedrooms, is now a loft with three sleeping areas that wood be favored by The Three Bears. One antique is a large master bed, a smaller bed blanketed in a quilt created by Dave’s grandmother is quite soft, and a third, the smallest bed, was one referred to as a “hired man’s bed.”
What wasn’t salvageable of the log home, Dave removed and replaced with history of another kind.
“The ceiling is made from logs from an old barn,” Bets said. “He tried to keep it like it wouldn’t been.” And she tired to keep in form by decorating it with antique toys and tools, and pictures that include not only an original of the property, but with an time-weathered album found inside the home. Other photos are included in the book that tracked the progress of the Hahn’s project given to them as a gift by their son and his wife. Another publication, Living the Country Life, features the home in a different way, as described by Karen Berrick in the article, “A Log Cabin Saved” and captured by photographs by Mitch Kezar in 2009.
The cabin’s decor includes a fruit press, axes, rocking chairs, a church pew, and an oversized table that looks fitting, though it was an antique salvaged from NorthWood High School. In teaching and keeping things authentic for the grandchildren and others that visit the log cabin, Dave makes waffles over a fire in a tool that gives new (or rather, old) meaning to the words “waffle iron.” He also makes popcorn on occasion in a large kettle, stirring it with a homemade ladle before scooping it into a gargantuan antique serving bowl.
“We have holiday gatherings here,” Bets explained. “It’s a nice place for all of us to get together.” She added with a laugh, “It’s probably the most expensive ‘free’ thing we’ve ever gotten.”
Opened to family members, friends and 4-H and church youth groups (both Hahns are on the Elkhart County Fair Board and Dave is a Union Township leader) in the past, the cabin was featured in the Garden Club walk and the Psi Iota Xi sorority’s “House of Holly, “it will now be available for the public to take a peek at during Nappanee’s Second Saturday event May 14. Visitors can see the farm between 1 and 4 p.m. Tickets are $5 each, available at the door or at L.J. Wagner, Antiques on the Square, Downtown Design and Consign, Veni’s Sweet Shop, Metzler’s Shoes and Everlastings or the Nappanee Chamber of Commerce office.
To find the home, travel north on S.R. 19 from downtown Nappanee to the first stop light north of downtown. Turn right at C.R. 52 (Woodview Drive) and travel until C.R. 7 then turn north (left) and drive to C.R. 48. Turn right (on C.R. 48) onto the dirt and gravel road and the cabin and farm can be seen on the left.